The Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday ordered the initial forfeiture of some assets recovered from a former Commander of the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta Major Gen. Emmanuel Atewe (retd) to the federal government.
Justice Mohammed Liman gave the order that the assets, which included N293 million, six parcels of land and 30,000 MTN shares, be temporarily taken over by the government after entertaining an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the assets were part of the proceeds of N8.5bn which Atewe allegedly diverted from the military operation between September 5, 2014 and May 20, 2015.
The landed properties are: 50 hectares of farmland at Plot No. FL746B Gaube Farmland Extension II Layout, Kuje, Abuja; a piece of land located at Commercial Layout, Yenagoa Gardens, Bayelsa State; one hectare of land in Kuje District, Abuja;
Others are: Plot No. CP10, Sector Centre B Layout, Kuje, Abuja; Plot MF62 Outer Northern Expressway Cadastral Zone, Abuja; Plot No. 1228 Jahi, Abuja; four hectares of land designated as Plot No.CP6386 and Plot No.CP6387, Sabon Lugbe, Abuja.
In an affidavit attached to the application, an investigating officer with the EFCC, Adamu Yusuf, alleged that Atewe purchased the 30,000 MTN shares for N170,350,000.
While moving the application on Thursday, the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, maintained that it would be in the interest of justice for the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the assets.
After listening to him, Justice Liman granted the application and further directed that the temporary forfeiture order be published in a national newspaper.
The judge then adjourned the matter to April 20 to enable anyone interested in the assets to appear before him to show reasons why they should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Atewe is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi; Kime Engozu and Josephine Otuaga for conspiracy and fraud.
They were arraigned by the Commission in 2016 before Justice Ayotunde Faji for allegedly diverting N8.5 billion belonging ti the military Operation Pulo Shield in the Niger Delta.